US accuses Iran of orchestrating threatening election email campaign

Earlier this week, Americans living in several states across the country, particularly Florida and Alaska, received some very intriguing email messages. The subject of these messages was threatening – “Vote for Trump, otherwise …” – just like their content, promising to “Find them” if these voters, registered as Democrats with their state, did not change their affiliation and did not slip into the ballot box a ballot in favor of the incumbent president in the November 3 election. The messages appeared to come from the American far-right group Proud Boys, supporters of Donald Trump.

In a hastily organized press conference on Wednesday (October 21), US Director of Intelligence John Ratcliffe accused Iran of being behind this disinformation campaign. The senior official did not provide any evidence to support his accusation. The Proud Boys group had denied any involvement, one of its main leaders calling on the perpetrators of the manipulation to “To rot in prison”.

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The senders of the messages claimed to have obtained ” all of the information “ people thus threatened, sometimes mentioning their personal address. They also claimed to be able to know for who voted their target, which is impossible, and to have penetrated “The entire electoral infrastructure”. The specialist company Proofpoint detected several waves of mailings, totaling a few hundred e-mails.

This operation was therefore of low magnitude. It was, moreover, technically very simple, which undoubtedly explains in part the speed – three days – with which the American authorities designated a person in charge. These e-mails were most likely sent using information contained in the electoral rolls, very easily accessible in the United States. These lists contain a lot of personal information, including political party affiliation. The US authorities on Wednesday accused Iran – but also Russia – of having recovered this type of information ahead of the November 3 election. Armed with this information, the hackers used – most likely without their knowledge – the computer servers of a Saudi bank and an Estonian publisher to send their messages, while impersonating the Proud Boys in the messages sent. Technically simple handling.

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